My top five highest-grossing stock images
NOW THAT you have identified the best stock agencies to target with your images, have a rough idea of how much you’re likely to earn, and have a better understanding of the technical requirements, which types of images are likely to continue selling for years to come? It’s a difficult question to answer, but once you have a significant portfolio spread out at various sites you will generate most of your income from a small percentage of your pictures. This is likely to be in line with the Pareto Principle, so you would earn 80% of your revenue from 20% of your images. The beauty of the microstock business model is that such high- grossing images should continue to sell for years to come. The key is to produce images that rank highly for popular keywords and simply produce more of these types of shots.
To give you an idea of which types of images are popular, here are five of my highestgrossing images at Shutterstock, along with the number of downloads of each image. I’ve given reasons as to why they continue to be licensed regularly. Despite the varied subject matter, the pictures all have a few things in common: they are technically excellent (focus, lighting, composition etc); they were shot in colour (which tends to be more versatile than black & white); each one has a clearly identifiable theme/message; the level of post-processing is just right; they provoke a powerful emotional response in the viewer; the shots capture an inspirational place/time; and they illustrate ‘trending’ themes with high-ranking, popular keywords. 1 A powerful moment in the midst of the refugee crisis in Budapest, Hungary. A young girl holds up an ‘SOS’ sign while fellow refugees create an interesting frame. Even though this editorial image and slight variations were captured in 2014, they continue to be licensed regularly, as the refugee crisis in Europe, unfortunately, has no end in sight. 2 These beautiful arches in Rio de Janeiro’s botanical gardens draw you in, with a beautiful soft, tropical light. The picture has been licensed for all sorts of media from postcards to wedding blogs and, of course, blogs about travel to Rio/Brazil. 3 Most images of Rotterdam Centraal train station in the Netherlands tend to be captured at street level, making this angle more unusual. In addition, the image has a futuristic feel. Rotterdam is a hub for import/ export business, with Europe’s largest port, and as a result this image features heavily in business-related websites and blogs. 4 This is a hugely versatile commercial image about a popular subject (travel), featuring interesting lighting and composition. This type of shot is increasingly difficult to obtain due to tighter security, even with long lenses. In this image, I cloned out all of the logos so it could be licensed commercially. 5 Backdrop of Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, captured a year before the 2016 Olympics. This image has been licensed regularly on ads/blogs about Rio and Brazil as well as blogs/ads about cocktails.
1 582 downloads
172 downloads 4
3 162 downloads
255 downloads 2
125 downloads 5